Justin Griener was born on January 7, 1928. He lost his father at the age of 10 at the height of the Great Depression - the result of which would have a lasting effect on his perspective on life and his personal relationships. Though stricken with what some would consider misfortune, Justin Griener developed a marked self-reliance, along with an understanding of those in disadvantaged circumstances. As a result he became an innovative builder and a champion for those who simply needed a hand.
He learned to fly prior to entering the United States Army at the age of 18, where he trained as a paratrooper and a glider pilot. He was a member of the occupation force in Japan. Upon discharge, he returned to Eastern Airlines as a cargo handler until he was forced to quit so he could re-apply for flight duty. He was subsequently hired and flew as copilot until the age of 27 when he became a Captain with Eastern. In his early days he and his older brother George flew the DC-3 which now hangs in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Among his projects was the construction of a hand-crafted log home in Lake Tahoe, which is believed to be the first "earthquake proof" log home built in the United States.
He retired as the Senior Captain with Eastern at the age of 58. During his time at Eastern, he was the first commuter elected to represent the pilots based out of Atlanta as their ALPA representative. He had no tolerance for bullies, sycophants, or petty people and had a gift for dealing with such people. He was also generous to a fault. Had he been as diligent at protecting his own interests as well as those of other people, he would have been a very wealthy man. Justin Griener invested in people, not assets.
He expired in his home on Thursday, November 21, 2019, less than 2 months before his 92nd birthday. He was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn Griener, on July 12, 2018, and his son, Gregory Griener in 1999. He is survived by his twin sister, Joyce Griener; his son, Thayne Griener; and a legacy of friends and acquaintances whose burdens were made lighter by his generosity.
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